Our Reponse to Covid-19

As followers of Jesus we believe that loving our neighbor as ourselves is one of the most important things we can do. As such, our church community has been very conservative in our response to the COVID-19 epidemic. We went online and started Zoom worship as soon as public health officials suggested we not gather in March 2020. And we have stayed online in order to keep ourselves and our community safe. The church is a community where multiple generations gather for regular worship in an enclosed indoor space with people of all different kinds of backgrounds and levels of exposure to the outside world. Throughout this pandemic churches have sometimes become super spreaders, especially when they did not take the proper precautions, and sometimes even when they did. This desire to keep our congregation and wider community safe has been the guiding principle of our response.

Based on the science, we highly recommend that all people who are eligible for one of the COVID-19 vaccines get their vaccinations as soon as possible. Most of our congregation is vaccinated, however, some are not, including our children who cannot yet be vaccinated, and so we continue to be conservative in our approach out of care for those who remain vulnerable. We also suggest mask wearing as an important mitigation tool, especially for those who remain unvaccinated and/or in areas where there is continued substantial transmission of the virus.

In order to keep our community safe and connected we have used both online and in-person opportunities to gather throughout the pandemic. This has included online parties or game nights or trivia nights. We have also gathered in person but outside on our church grounds several times for bonfires, outdoor worship, picnics, justice work, and more. Even when gathering outside we encourage mask wearing and distancing as appropriate.

However, we cannot deny that many of us miss in person worship and long to be back in our sanctuary. Our current guidelines suggest that as soon as Montgomery County is no longer in the category of substantial transmission we can gather indoors again in person for worship, using mitigation strategies such as masks, distancing, and increased ventilation. But we also know that many of our congregation have enjoyed joining us for online worship and sometimes those have been people who don't live anywhere near our church. So when we return to the sanctuary we will have hybrid worship including both those in the building and those who choose to join us online.

As our sanctuary is currently not outfitted for online worship we have undertaken a major renovation to prepare our worship space with cameras, displays, improved sound for all, and more. This work is currently ongoing and it is anticipated that it will be finished sometime this fall. At that time we hope the metrics in our county have significantly improved so that we can enjoy Advent and Christmas both in person and online.

The pandemic has changed us all. We weep for and honor the over 1,500 people who have died in our county alone. As we move into the future together we look to create a new "normal" where care for each other and the community around us is our highest priority.